Blacksburg may be best known as home of Virginia Tech but if you think this college town goes quiet when the Hokies are away, think again.
"It's definitely slower than say the fall or spring," said High Peak Sportswear owner Travis Bishop. "But it's still a little bustling town."
Bishop's store is on the edge of town and campus. It's all about Hokie gear and gives him a front row seat to campus activity, including many of the 4900 incoming freshman in Blacksburg now throughout the rest of July for orientation. "You can stay on campus but we chose to stay at the Marriott right down the street," said Eileen Walsh.
Walsh's son will start at Virginia Tech in August. They're like the thousands of other families, moms dads and siblings visiting campus and spending money in town, whether it's on hotels or Hokie gear. "Shannon wanted a t-shirt and we have other things to get for him as a student too," she said as her daughter Shannon, in Blacksburg for her brother's orientation as well, shopped during a break for lunch.
An influx of new people every year dining out and buying supplies like computers, books and beds but Virginia Tech's impact on the New River Valley economy goes beyond student spending. "Translating research into businesses within this community is substantial," explained Kevin Byrd. Byrd works with the New River Valley Planning District Commission.
Virginia Tech and its 7500 staff, teachers and researchers make education the largest employment sector in the NRV. Byrd says that is a great stabilizer for any community. "We have a constant job creator in Virginia Tech and the research that's happening on campus and the business being developed," he said.
Some of the developments happen on campus, like the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, home to more than 150 high tech companies and hundreds of employees, or off campus like digital ad agency Modea which was founded by tech grads.
Byrd says that contribution helps the New River Valley recover as it did during the last recession. "You look at our region compared to other regions in the state and county, our rebound was lot quicker than others."
It's a Virginia Tech effect that's a year round endeavor.
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